Regathering Update & Survey
We continue to give great thanks for your patience and perseverance! This has lasted longer than any of us every thought possible. We know and have heard the many desires to return to indoor, in-person worship.
Thankfully, we have reached the societal stage in which any resident of Maryland, 16 or older, is now eligible and able to receive a vaccine for Covid-19.
Yet we also note the concerning surge of new Covid-19 cases in our area, which seems to have a two-fold cause. First, a “variant” of the virus is now the predominant strain in our area. It seems this variant is more contagious than the original, and particularly contagious amid younger adults. This variant, combined with a societal relaxation of and exhaustion from proper social distancing and masking, seems to be fueling the surge.
This is compounded by research and polls suggesting that approximately 20-25% of Americans are not planning on getting vaccinated (or at least not this year). If this proves true, it is unlikely America will reach “herd immunity” in 2021.
As a result, the Regathering Team has been reassessing the Phased Regathering Plan that bases our progression towards regathering indoors upon baseline measurements of key metrics.
Considering the wide availability of vaccines and our continued ability to mitigate risk of virus transmission through proper distancing, masking, and cleaning, we are exploring moving into Phase 3 of the Plan even though the metrics are not as low as originally desired.
Simultaneous to all the work of the Regathering Committee, the Property Committee has been working with our HVAC vendor (as well as engineers and architects) to update the sanctuary’s ventilation system. This is significant, as the sanctuary is the facility’s singularly “worst” room from an ventilation perspective. This project will not only significantly increase the amount of outdoor air brought into the sanctuary, it will also seek to remedy what has been ongoing humidity and temperature control issues in and around the organ chamber (which has caused unfortunate wear and tear on the beautiful instrument).
Additionally, as we know livestreaming is here to stay and thus need to develop the ability to both stream worship out to screens at home while also viewing videos within the sanctuary itself, leadership has been working on a significant upgrade of our sanctuary’s audio-visual technology. This includes new microphones (including special hanging condensers in the Chancel), speakers, cameras, livestreaming equipment, and the addition of television screens placed as discretely as possible in various locations of the sanctuary.
We do not yet have definitive dates as to when all of this work will be finished, but anticipate it will be done by mid-summer.
Meanwhile, the Regathering Team needs your input to discern the best way forward. Very important questions are included in the accompanying survey. Please take five minutes to complete and submit it.
Again, please know how grateful leadership is for your ongoing patience and perseverance amid the pandemic. The light is growing brighter, our ministry is growing stronger, and our community is growing larger because of you.